February 29, 2008

Blog Maintenance / MLB.TV

Well, I'm just popping in here today to give you a quickie post today.

I took the opportunity today to do a little "behind the scenes" work on my blog, and if you look at the sidebar you will notice a couple of things.

First off. I did that poll on whether or not I should create a Picture Fiction Archive, and the result spoke a clear language indeed. 18 people voted. 15 of those wanted the archives while 3 couldn't care less. No one said they didn't want an archive. So today I added the "archives" link to the sidebar under the PFC logo picture. All future PFC stories will be collected on that post (which for now hopefully appears below this one).

Second. I updated my blogroll, since that has fallen way behind. I've started reading so many new excellent blogs lately, and I've not taken the time to honor them by adding them to my blogroll. This has now been fixed, and you should now all be included there. If I missed you, let me know and I'll fix it ASAP!

Third little thing. I've been contemplating doing more "music" posts to share my excellent taste in music with you all (yes, I do consider myself lucky enough to have a very refined taste in music). But, while making many boring posts speaking of how freakin' great a particular artist, group or song is would be boring in itself, I came up with this little idea.

I added a "playlist" to the sidebar. You will find that there is only one song available today - and that is Savatage's "Morphine Child". What I aim to do here is add a new song every now and then, mention it in that days blog post, and if you want to you can take the opportunity to listen to the new song. The playlist will grow, but as I get (say) 30 songs or so on there, I will probably start taking the oldest one's out - unless I decide to repost them. Feel free to offer your opinions on the music I've chosen for you at any time.

I chose that song today because Savatage is one of my all-time favorite bands, and that song is one (of so many) of their best songs. Taken off their latest album, and quite possibly (sadly) their last album. It's a 10 minute masterpiece which during it's second half is absolutely mindblowing.

Give it an ear, will ya?

MLB.TV! Yes, I decided to pay for a yearly subscription to the MLB.TV today. Grapefruit league started the other day, and I saw that MLB.TV would show quite a few of these games. I couldn't live any longer without some baseball, so I decided to sign up right now and get the best of pre-season training.

Today, the Braves were playing the Dodgers and I was particularly looking forward to seeing Jair Jurrjens in action. He was slated to start the game, and is a young prospect that was acquired in the Edgar Renteria trade at the start of the off-season.

Jurrjens had a couple of good innings, although a little shaky in the middle of the first when he issued a walk and allowed the Dodgers a one run lead. I still think this guy can be something special. Buddy Carlyle got the win, and was very impressive in the two innings he pitched. He sure showed more than I expect from him, which is a good thing.

The offense was looking good. Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira are going to be a lethal 3-4 punch in the middle of the order, and quite a few opposing teams are going to have some problems facing up to these two guys. Jeff Francour will likely bat behind them, and he looks like he will continue to improve his game... so the middle of the line-up is looking really good.

Only thing I wasn't too happy about - and judging anything from just one pre-season game is futile anyway - was Brandon Jones. Now, I have been of the opinion that he and Matt Diaz should platoon in left field, just like Diaz and Willie Harris did last season. But, after Brandon missed a routine fly ball, and didn't even seem to hustle after the ball after he dropped it, made me think he might benefit from at least beginning the season in Triple A ball.

Sadly, Andruw Jones was not included in the Dodgers line-up. I was kind of looking forward to seeing him play (even if it would have been in the wrong jersey).

Anyway... I've got plenty of good baseball ahead of me. Now I can barely wait for the regular season to begin.

The Braves really are going to win it this year!

PFC Archive

The Picture Fiction Challenge is a monthly "game" in which I present a number of pictures representing Character, Objective, Setting, Item and Random. All of which will be incorporated into a short fictional story. Any one is welcome to play.

This will be the place where I will store all of the participating stories for each month, so you can go back and read up on them any time you feel like it.


PFC #1 Stories:
"Untitled" by Dana
"Untitled" by Dianne
"Pieces of Autumn" by Emmeline
"A Tragedy" by Farmer's Wife
"Untitled" by Jo
"One Little Leaf" by Kell
"Untitled" by Leighann
"Boy Meets Girl" by Maggie
"Untitled" by Newt
"The Cold Room" by R.E.H.

PFC #2 Stories:
"Game Over" by Dana
"Family Day" by Dianne
"One By One" by Emmeline
"Bedtime Stories: Tell Me A Dream" by Farmer's Wife
"The Road Back" by Jay
"Untitled" by Jill
"One More" by Jo
"Tigers In The Beach" by Joel
"Dark Ocean" by Knight
"Photographer To The Stars" by Newt
"A Life In Pictures" by Raven
"The Money Shot" by R.E.H.

PFC #3 Stories:
"A Life To Love" by Farmer*s Wife
"The Dissidents" by Jay
"All I Need" by Jeff B
"Untitled" by Jo
"Taking Her Home" by Newt
"A Muse By Any Other Name" by Raven
"The Spirit Of Loa" by R.E.H.
"My Dream & A Lifetime Memory" by Single In The City

February 28, 2008

Bug Eye Tired

I don't know what it is... well, I do know - I don't sleep properly at night - but, I'm bug eye tired.

Crappy day at work today. Oh, how I wish today had been the last day! Now, I gotta work the weekend, as well as those long 11 hour shifts next week. Already I have agreed to work an extra half hour on Saturday, because poor scheduling meant there was only one left after closing to count the cash drawers and finish things up (aka work "closing"). Fine, I'll do it - it's half an hour that pays like a full hour, and hardly any work involved. I mean, who says it's hard work to sit on your butt counting some money and fiddling around with the computer?

I actually laughed a little bit today. Let me just tell you about these experiences at work today, which will give you an insight into how perfectly well things are organized at the place I work. And read irony into that statement.

The store manager is away for the remainder of the week, getting some information and education on some new things (they don't tell us what these secret things are, for some reason - though it is something she will need to pass on to us once she returns). Okay - that happens, right - nothing funny about that.

The thing is... our assistant store manager (actually the sales manager, they way it is structured at our store) whom I genuinely do NOT like, is doing the morning meeting as I arrive. Now, I gotta give the lady some credit here - this is a day off for her, and she had been in at work since 7AM this morning, and she stayed til 7:30PM when I went home after closing.

What is funny here is that she looked at me during the morning meeting and asked me:

"R.E.H. what is up with your situation here?"

"What do you mean?", I ask.

"Well, I hear today might be your last day...". Notice the might be?

"No, I don't think so. According to the Union Rep the District Manager wanted me to stay on for another week. I wasn't going to accept the 19th as the date of my lay off, so it's been pushed forward to the 25th, and because of that I need to work another week. But, I don't know for sure - the Union Rep said it had something to do with the scheduling."

"Ok. Did the store manager talk to you at all about this yesterday?"

"No she did not. Only person I've talked to about this is the Union Rep."

"So, when do you do your last day?"

"I don't know."

So, apparently - our store manager has not filled in for me on the schedule. That means they will be understaffed every day I was supposed to have worked, right? That's minus one body on the premises.

Add to this the following. Next week - our store manager goes on vacation - for three weeks if I understood the whole thing right. She has not scheduled anyone to work her hours at the store. That's minus two bodies on the premises.

Now, if you lose two workers out of five, that leaves you with only three.

Add to that the following. One of the guys who was supposed to work this weekend had told our store manager that he could not take those hours, in which he was scheduled to work. This guy works two jobs, and is only an extra at the store I work at (for one more week). His other job is his priority, of course. She had scheduled him without checking his availability, so he told her he cannot work those two days.

She has not replaced him on the schedule.

If I had in fact not worked this weekend, as was planned, out of the three people scheduled to work on Sunday - a day on which we never are more than three people working - there would be NONE able to work, and neither would've been replaced. That would have made it interesting.

So, now that I am back in the frame, and the Sales Manager working the weekend there are two of us. And here is the killer.

Because we do not have anyone left to call in for work, it became known to me that a girl who quit to move to Norway during the fall is now back in the picture. So, they lay me off, and bring back other people as extra workers to make up for the hours they've lost. That way they don't have to pay these extra workers any health benefits and what not.

So, I lose my job, and other people will work my hours, while the company can claim that they have less people on the payroll.

The other funny thing is that when our store manager goes on vacation, nothing about my situation has been resolved. She has left no information about what needs to be done, and there are a ton of things that needs be done as summer approaches and lots of new stuff is coming in. We need to assemble all the patio furniture, make space to display those, learn all the technical details so that we can answer the most ridiculous questions customers tend to ask.

Further chuckles escaped me as I had to start off the day by figuring out, all by myself, and then teaching the others at work how to custom order roller blinds.

This is a new thing we sell at the store as of this Monday. Not one person has been given the required information on how to do this, should a customer want to buy it. This lady had been in yesterday, when I had a day off, but they had not been able to service her. They said they would look it up, and if she comes back today we will know how this new thing works.

So... I dig through the archives of the computer, and indeed I find a step-by-step tutorial how to place the order. So I help the customer, and then I have to show to the others how to do it.

I look forward to the day when they have to figure things like this out for themselves.

It has always been like that. We are not given the necessary information when needed. We've known we were going to start selling custom made roller blinds for the past two months - still we have not been informed how that works.

My store manager knew, on Tuesday, that it was the last day she would ever work with me. She didn't even have the common courtesy to find me and say goodbye, wish me luck, or whatever before she went home that day. She simply vacated the premises, without saying a word to a single person.

I remember on Tuesday, as one of the registers malfunctioned, I walked into the office to let her know that she would have to get in touch with support next day and fix the register. I couldn't find her. I asked the others where she was and they said they didn't know... half an hour later we all figure she must've gone home.

I called support first thing this morning and fixed the cash register. It works just fine now. Two days later...

Some people want home delivery on stuff they buy. Maybe because they don't have access to a car big enough to transport it all, or they are too old to carry heavy boxes themselves and don't have anyone who can help them out. Anyway - when a date is booked for delivery, it is of course important that we deliver on that day. People might even have taken time off work to be there to receive the furniture.

On Tuesday, I had one of these, and it was important they have it delivered before 4PM on Thursday, which is today, right. That requires that we book the delivery with the delivery service the day before it is due.

First thing, this morning, I find that paper still in the slot awaiting confirmation. I ask if it has been booked - and of course it hasn't.

I called up the delivery guys and asked them if they could please squeeze in this delivery today, as we had missed booking it yesterday.

The customers got their new mattresses today - before 4PM.

I'm not saying that I'm better than anyone at my job or anything. I make my fair share of mistakes too... but is that not all a result of being understaffed?

Yeah, I'm boring you all with this work crap blogging. Soon enough - that'll all be over and done with.

Now, who wants a beer?

February 27, 2008

Two Little Ramblings

Just a couple little things that I want to get off my chest today...

To begin with - lets talk about work, baby. Let's talk about them and me, let's talk about... yeah, I was going for that Pretty Ricky song as reference here, but it didn't work for more than those two first lines. For the full effect, read that as if it were the lyrics to the song, and snap your fingers to keep the beat. Then you'll be able to feel like I did when I wrote that short segment of this post.

Anyway. I had demands, right. I was going to get them to put forth the date of the lay-off, meaning I get a few more days of pay, right?


I demanded the pay be calculated as if I was working, including bonus payments I would receive had I been actually working.


I demanded that the days I am not entitled to work, but still being paid, will also count as if I was working, meaning that I will get a full four weeks of vacation pay paid out in full in my final pay-check.


Freakin' great! But, there's a catch. Mr. Ass-Hat the Union Rep called me up this morning... again! Well, he actually did the negotiations for me, and most of what I wanted came through, so I am obliged to take away the Ass-Hat name for him - let's just settle for Mr. Weenie-Hat instead - that's not quite as vulgar. So, Mr. Weenie-Hat called me up this morning to tell me of the good news that I just told you. I'm getting some money after all...

...but now they want me to work another week.

What the heck! I was so mentally prepared to do my last day of work tomorrow, so this really hit me in the gut like a wrecking ball. I so do not want to spend another minute in that place. On top of it all - next week is the worst working hours for me, when I work opening til closing every single day.

Well, I'm going to need the extra week's salary, so I can't really say no, can I? I got everything else I wanted, so I guess it all comes down as a fair enough deal.

Enough of work...

I gotta stop eating candy and other delightful treats again. See, I lost all that weight, partly because I started going to the gym, and in part because I almost entirely stopped eating chocolate, chips and various delicious pastries. I ate healthy stuff, even if it didn't taste quite as good - and my pounds rapidly dropped.

Now, I didn't go on a diet or anything... I just changed things around a little, and instead of mainly eating the fattening stuff, I brought that down to a respectable level, and replaced that with some of the more healthy food items around. I didn't keep track of things or anything, and I still gave myself a treat every now and then. Without that - you might just as well book me a permanent padded cell at the local insane asylum right away.

Now, I've noticed that I am starting to gain weight again. Despite still going to the gym. Of course, that is because I have started eating chocolate bars, chips and other things (including the tiny little cheesecakes I found last week... I'm going crazy on those right now).

Yep, I gotta stop.

Makes me think though - something I thought about many times, and still I am not able to figure this out...

Why is it that the healthier the food, the worse it tastes? And, the more fattening it is, the more you just want to stuff your face full of it and swallow it 'til it damn near makes you puke?

I wish veggies were tasty, and chocolate made me barf.

February 26, 2008

WWC / Rubicon On Hold

This'll be the last Tuesday that I have to be in at work at the place I've been earning my paycheck for the last four years. I'm kind of excited about that. It's starting to look like my demands will be met, but nothing is final on that yet...

Did I say it was Tuesday?

Yes! That means we're about to have us some fun with the Weekly Words Challenge. The WWC is brought to us by the hacky sack packin' zombie saviour Tink of Pickled Beef. And she gave us the words WOOD and METAL to play with this week.

Before I present my pictures of this week, I will give you some rather bad (sad?) news. Now, don't be too upset about this, but I've decided to put my Rubicon Heart story on hold for a little bit. I do intend to get back to it, but for the last week my private life (I try to maintain that too) has been a little hectic. So that's been the reason why you didn't get a new chapter this week. Then, for some reason, since The One left the country, my need to write the thing and get it out of my system has diminished. I can't really explain it... but I've just not felt right about writing it this past week.

If I don't feel right doing it, I don't think it'd be fair to put it out there for your reading pleasure either.

I hope to get back on it soon, though. Just letting you know that it may be a while before you get to read on...

Now, I hope you are still in the mood for some pictures!

That sign says "Build & WOOD" in Swedish


A WOOD swing set at the playground


Stainless steel is a METAL


A METAL gate


Heavy METAL !!!


WOOD and METAL slide


METAL blade and WOOD handle knife


So there you have it. My WWC pictures for this week. Next week we will be playing with the words STONE and GLASS. She's giving us a break lately with some easier words... but, as I found this week - it wasn't all that much easier.

There were a couple of pictures, that I thought would rock this week, that I meant to go out and take this morning before I went to work. But, weather had the audacity to ruin it for me. It was pouring rain all morning, and I just couldn't get out there to take the pictures I wanted - that's why you got those late night pics from a playground near my home. In a state of panic, I walked over there as I got home from work, and hoped the flash would be enough for a couple of acceptable shots.


In case you missed it, I posted the new Picture Fiction Challenge for next month. Scroll on down to see that if you missed it yesterday.

February 25, 2008

PFC #2

It is time to present another Picture Fiction Challenge.

The first one turned out a raging success, and I think a lot of us enjoyed writing and reading the stories. I hope those who took part in the first one will take the time to write a story based on the pictures below as well.

Hopefully we'll see a couple of debutants as well.

If you've missed reading any of the stories from the first PFC, you will be able to find the links to all participants on the sidebar here. I will keep them up there until the new stories are due. Then that sidebar will be updated and show the stories for PFC #2.

Do you all think I should add some kind of archives to this? A place of reference where you can go back and find stories of PFC's of the past? Take the poll on that one to the left here as well!

I've decided to put the deadline for PFC #2 at 19-21 of March, so that should give us all plenty of time to write our stories.

Let's review the rules of this little game before we go on to the pictures:

Each picture below represents a certain aspect of the story. Analyze each picture and try to interpret what you see into the specific category the picture represents.

Character(s): The main character(s) of your story. This is the person(s) whose perspective the story is told through. You can have any number of additional characters, but the one(s) on this picture are who we will relate to.

Objective: This is the overall objective of the story. That which our main character is trying to achieve - what the MC is trying to reach. This is the objective of the story.

Setting: The place where the story unfolds. (Only the place in the picture need be considered, if people or other things are present in the picture they are optional to include)

Item: An item of significant* importance to the story.

Random: This could be a picture of anything at all, and what you see on that picture must have a significant* importance in the story you write.

*significant. That means that these things do not simply appear in a fleeting moment in the story. They hold an importance to the events that unfold, and are as such necessary to the outcome and progression of the story.


All of the picture representations must be present in the final story.

The story you write can be as long or short as you wish.

You can write the story in either first or third person perspective.

The story must be a fictional story.


The deadline to post the story on your blog will be between 19th - 21st of March. Not sooner - not later! (Ideally, everyone posts on the 19th, but I'm giving you a couple extra days because there are many reasons one may not be able to post on a specific day)

Let me know in a comment when you have posted your contribution, so I can add a link to your blog (and story) in a list of all participants on my sidebar.

Read the other people's stories (only after you've posted your own) and comment on their writing.

If you want a step-by-step "tutorial", or walk-through... check THIS out.

That was easy, wasn't it? For me it was... all I had to do was copy what I wrote last time, and change the date of the deadline. Oh, and I added a line on the "setting picture explanation", which states that you only need to focus on the location of the shot... as in this one's picture there is an elderly couple as well. You can include them (not as main characters) in your story if you want, but feel free to ignore them completely if you don't want them in your story.

Ok... so here are the pictures we get to work with this month:



Ok! Get crackin' on those stories. As usual, I can hardly wait for the day this is due, so I can read all your stories, and recieve all that fun feedback from all of you who read mine.

Tomorrow it's time for another "feature" - the Weekly Words Challenge. The words for this week are WOOD and METAL.

Until then...

February 24, 2008

Funday Sunday: "True West"

In light of recent events on this blog - specifically last days blog post, and the nature of comments in the comments section of that post, my mind went to this old stage play. I have been searching high and low for this one - for years! I was shocked to find it on YouTube.

This is a part of Sam Shepard's True West. A stage play that was filmed, starring John Malkovich and Gary Sinise. Quite possibly the best ever dark comedy stage play I have ever seen.

The story revolves around a writer (Sinise), and his troubled brother (Malkovich) who shows up after being gone for many years. I am not going to spoil anything - because I will recommend you find this one and watch it in full. It appears you can get the whole play in segments like this one from YouTube, but I'm sorry to say that the capture isn't all that great. The picture is very dark.

As I said at the beginning - all this talk about writing, about darkness and about the human psyche that's been going on made me think about this stage play. I think this captures the mood set in these comments quite well... and it does it in a very funny way.

PS. You only need to watch the first 4-5 minutes. The "pen or pencil" sequence is what is important here. I couldn't find only that scene in a clip, so feel free to stop watching once the phone is over and done with ;)

Malkovich is simply brilliant in this one!

February 23, 2008

You Are What You Write

After the very successful first Picture Fiction Challenge, I thought I'd reflect a little on the experience of it. A big Thank You goes out to all of you who decided to participate - and I know it was hard for some of you. It goes to show how powerful the medium of the written word really is. Another Thank You goes to all of you who went around to read and comment on each one of our stories. Feedback is invaluable for the wanna-be writer.

One of those who commented, really set my mind wandering. I wish I had a better nickname/handle/identification on this person, who prefers to stay "Anonymous". Thought provoking and interesting comments have been left for me by this person, however, and I can't help but look forward to reading them.

I will start this little reflection by responding to "Anonymous". Here's what he/she said in a comment on my "The Cold Room" story:

Anonymous wrote:
You gave people pictures instead of ink blots but the words "rorschach test" come to mind.

People always say "you write what you know." It's interesting to see what people know about cockroaches, drug addiction, loss, pain, death, beatings, violence, sadness and long-shot happy endings.

If I read your story correctly you've been beaten down and isolated.
Your inherent goodness has been overlooked by women.
You feel compelled to rescue women.
You're worn out from being the hero. Now you want a woman to rescue you...

Did I read that correctly? Or am I interpreting your ink blot the wrong way?

I figure this story must have a pretty deep meaning to you. After all 4228 words is one hell of a big ink blot. It takes balls to put yourself out there like that. That's probably why people liked your story so much...

It's hard for anyone to write a true work of fiction.
"We write what we know."

Anon. I didn't respond to anything of which you said in the comments section, but now I will. Let me dissect this and see what we'll find. Lets start at the beginning, shall we?

"You gave people pictures instead of ink blots but the words "rorschach test" come to mind."

The rorschach reference is an interesting one. While I believe there is an element of truth to what you are suggesting, I take that with as much reliability as I take the actual ink blot test. Many people would doubt its authenticity and how correctly it describes the mental frameset of the test subject.

The question here is, is it the individual doing the assessment - or is the assessment done by the picture itself - projecting it's own emotion onto the viewer? If you take a picture that provokes darkness, or evil - each individual looking at that picture will see bad things, right? You don't put a picture out there of a beautiful loving couple, embracing and kissing one another on the beach with the sun setting in the background, and inspire thoughts of murder and dismemberment, right? Such a picture would induce serenity and calmness, and feelings of love - no matter who is looking at the picture.

If we look at the what happened on this first challenge it becomes quite apparent that there was one picture in particular which inspired the writings we got to read. That picture was the "Setting" picture. The run down building caused us all to think of darkness, loneliness, despair and other emotions along the same lines. That one "ink blot" influenced how we interpreted the rest of the pictures we were presented with.

Had we used the same pictures, but changed the "Setting" to an image of a large 18th century mansion, with a beautiful flower garden, and a limo parked out front... we would've seen very different stories indeed.

"People always say "you write what you know." It's interesting to see what people know about cockroaches, drug addiction, loss, pain, death, beatings, violence, sadness and long-shot happy endings."

That's a two-faced statement, the way I see it. I can either read it as if you are suggesting that we write about cockroaches because we know about cockroaches. In which case I disagree. As a writer of fiction, you reach out and find territories and things to write about that are alien to your own experiences. If you take a look at my own story, it is full of violence and death. I have lived a very secluded life, and never really had any violent episodes in the vein of what I write about here.

I have, however, witnessed domestic violence (although, of course, nowhere near as brutal as what I wrote here), so to a certain extent even that angle of your statement rings true.

But, do we want to look at this from a more "factual" angle? I take it from your comment that you took the time to read the stories by other people too, derived mostly from your mention of drug addiction. There was only one story presented in this PFC that dealt with drug addiction, and Emmeline, who wrote that story, does NOT know about drug addiction (as she said herself in comments on her own blog).

Now, don't get me wrong, Emmeline, but I will use your writing as an example in what I'm trying to say here. This is not to put you down or anything - the story you wrote was good, and I truly enjoyed reading it (I don't want you to think otherwise), but I will admit that I thought it was apparent that your knowledge of drug addiction was limited. Of course, if one wants to write a story about drug addiction, and wanting to really convince the reader (including those who have gone through that hell themselves, or witnessed it up close) research is key to a successful story. No one would expect anyone to do extensive research for a "fun little game" like this is supposed to be. What was important about your story is that you fleshed out your characters, and evoked emotion as we were reading. Limited knowledge about drugs, really didn't matter in this case.

What I'm trying to say here, is that when writing "serious" fiction Anon's statement needs to change to "you should write what you know". If we look at how Emmeline's story "Pieces of Autumn" described the drugs, and what the sister was using, this is how it went down:

"She ticked off a laundry list of street names for all kinds of addictive drugs - some of them I'd never heard before."
While it works very well. We understand that she uses a lot of different forms of drugs. But, a similar description written by someone who really knows drugs came to mind as I was thinking about this. That is this excerpt from William S. Burroughs, who was a drug addict, more or less, for almost 60 years, and this is how he ticks off his laundry list:

"When I say addict I mean an addict to junk (generic term for opium and/or derivatives including all synthetics from demerol to palfium). I have used junk in many forms: morphine, heroin, dilaudid, eukodal, pantopon, diocodid, diosane, opium, demerol, dolophine, palfium. I have smoked junk, eaten it, sniffed it, injected it in vein-skin-muscle, inserted it in rectal suppositories. The needle is not important. Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up your ass the result is the same: addiction."
That was taken from the introduction to his own novel "Naked Lunch". See how that short paragraph immediately draws us in, and makes us understand the hell that is drugs?

So, while we do write what we know, from the knowledge and experience we have gathered in our lives, it does not mean that we choose to write what we know.

"If I read your story correctly you've been beaten down and isolated.
Your inherent goodness has been overlooked by women.
You feel compelled to rescue women.
You're worn out from being the hero. Now you want a woman to rescue you...

Did I read that correctly? Or am I interpreting your ink blot the wrong way?"

Now this is the part of your comment that really caught my attention.

Not for a second. Not in a million years would I have thought I put that much of my soul into this short piece of fiction. Whether you just hit the lucky numbers and won the Jackpot with your analysis, or you are simply that good at analyzing a person from his writing will remain a mystery... are you a shrink by any chance? LOL!

Lets further dissect this part:

"...beaten down and isolated."

Well, for anyone who read the Introduction to the Rubicon Heart story, you will know that I was pretty much "beaten down and isolated" growing up. I wasn't physically beaten down (except for on a couple of rare occasions), but mentally I really was. I was also very much isolated - closing the door to my room, where I created my own world to live in. That is where I started writing fiction - from the age eight on I have enjoyed putting pieces of my mind into (what I hope to be) entertaining stories.

I will also say that most of the short stories I have ever written, have an element of loneliness and longing. That's where my own label of "Mystery Horror" derived from... one of my favorite stories I've ever written was called "Rest In Peace, My Dear", and told the tale of an old woman who got in a taxi and asked the driver to just drive. She told him a story of love and longing, of loss of her husband, and all the while she was thumping that walking cane she had against the floor of the taxi. There was something eerie about her, something almost scary, and in the end - the cab driver had taken her to a graveyard. She asks him to stop, gets out of the cab, thanking him and then telling him she will now join her husband. Curiously he followed her, and witnessed as she lay down by her husbands grave, and died...

I think I may re-write that story some day. I have often thought of turning it into a movie script, with that short segment being the introduction, where the cab driver would become my main character, and this event having a significant impact on his life. I've thought of merging it with the suicide story "Red Roses On A White Satin Bed"...

"Your inherent goodness has been overlooked by women."

Haha! Yes, I do feel that way, I must admit. Sometimes I am (honestly) outraged by the fact that women choose the guys that will treat them like crap, and not really care about them - whereas I am there for them and will fight to the death to keep them happy. It is a cliché that the bad guys get the good girls, but from my experience it is also the truth in most cases.

Wanna analyze that part further?

Like I said - I was not consciously thinking about any of this while writing the story... but notice how the girl chose the bad guy first? How she only ended up with "good guy" Brian, after she had been beaten up badly by her first choice man, Jake? Is that something I unconsciously put in there as well? And, did I kill Jake as a "fictional" revenge on all the Jake's I've despised in real life? Because I'm a good guy in real life, I would not resort to violence on such people in reality - but brutally slaying them in a work of fiction may be satisfactory to me...

Funny, isn't it?

"You feel compelled to rescue women."

Ok... not so much, actually. But, looking back at it, I find that I have often gotten in a relationship with a woman because I "feel sorry" for her. So, in a way that may be true also.

I am very protective, I would say. So, rather than being put in a situation where they need rescuing, I am adamant they stay away from potential danger (physically or mentally).

"You're worn out from being the hero. Now you want a woman to rescue you..."

Oh, wouldn't that be nice for a change! Hehe... Well, I can't really claim to be a hero, but like I said, I will fight to the death for the one I love - but I will expect something in return as well. When I am the one needing to be rescued, I would expect the woman to be there for me.

The part in my story about her showing up with the gun is where this comes from right? It is, however, a classic "Hollywood" climax. When all other options are depleted - we bring back a character we'd almost forgotten was there to solve the situation (rescue the hero).

"Did I read that correctly? Or am I interpreting your ink blot the wrong way?"

You read that very correctly. I am impressed. But, let me retort... how much of this is true to you? How did this "ink blot" bring these assumptions to your mind?

"I figure this story must have a pretty deep meaning to you. After all 4228 words is one hell of a big ink blot. It takes balls to put yourself out there like that. That's probably why people liked your story so much..."

To be honest... this story doesn't mean much to me at all. While I always put my heart and soul into what I write, this would go down as one of my lesser efforts ever. 4.000 plus words isn't really a lot for me. Like I said, I've been writing fiction since I was a little kid, basically - over this time it has become a natural process for me. Words just flow out, and I become immersed in my writing to the point that the outside world fades away, and I am part of the story I write. I watch as it unfolds.

I think the part about me letting go of reality. The part about me becoming one with the story is what makes people like what I write (at least that's what I'm hoping). I do not sit down and think "I am going to write this and that". What I do is sit down, start writing, and then as I get into the "zone" as I call it, the story presents itself to me - rather than me forcing it out of my imagination.

This is the wrong way to go about writing fiction. But, it is the method I use mostly when writing a short story. I have absolutely no idea where it is headed when I start writing. That is why it is imperative that I return to what I have written, read it through, taking notes and then go back to re-writing, so that I can eradicate any obvious mistakes. Like never addressing a situation I present at some point, which later escapes my memory and is left unsolved for the reader... or as in the case of this story - introducing a gun at a critical point of the story that has not been planted into the events earlier... making the reader think "how convenient she has a gun all of a sudden", instead of the much preferred "Thank God, she saw the gun he left on the table earlier". Of course, I should've added a situation which let the reader know that Jake actually carried a gun... something I pictured in my head all the time I wrote, but never mentioned.

Thinking back on it now, perhaps I should've had her use the knife the other brute was carrying. She could've walked into the room, noticed the knife on the floor next to the body, picked it up and stabbed Jake in the back of the head with it... I could've made the whole ending much more dramatic, but in all honesty I was rushed to finish the thing off.

Further more. I can write a lot, without realizing how much I've written. I just took a look at what I'm writing right now, and realize this is turning into a very long post... I didn't think it would drag on this long.

(Hope I'm not boring you all)

"It's hard for anyone to write a true work of fiction. "We write what we know.""

I'm with you there. The best fiction will always contain elements of our own lives. It is the only way to truly be able to captivate the reader.

It's not only hard - but it is impossible! What comes out of our imagination, and onto a piece of paper is brought out from within ourselves. We cannot reach for something that we do not have inside of us, which is why it is so often said that you put your soul into your writing - because that is true.

That is not to say that any work of fiction is a true reflection of who we are. Often will we write about things we want to experience, or dread it will ever happen to us. But, there is only one way we can approach those things... and that is through what we know, and what we have experienced, whether that be through our own lives, reading books, watching television or studying behavioural patterns of strangers we meet.

If we don't have it in us... we can't bring it out of ourselves.


Now, initially I had intended to reflect some more on the PFC itself - but this post ended up long enough anyway... I'll leave that for (maybe) another post. Let me just summarize this rather long analysis, and response to a thought provoking comment by "Anonymous" with these words;

You write what you know, because you are what you write.

February 21, 2008

Now, I'm Pissed... but, I found a treat!


Hey-hey-hey... no, no, no! I'm not flippin' the bird at you people. Don't get me wrong here!

I'm giving the finger to my idiot of a Union Representative. Yes, that same dickswab who called me up on the first day of my "mini-vacation", to make sure that I was aware of the fact that I was about to be fired. You know - the guy I called Morgan to give the jack-ass a name, as if he deserved one. I should've just went with Mr. Ass-Hat.

So, Mr. Ass-Hat had called me yesterday again. Now, I told the stupid jerk that I was on vacation, and had no interest in dealing with this crap until I got back to work. Still, he called twice yesterday, leaving a messege on my answering machine. It said:

"I have a protocol here from your work, and there is something I would like to discuss with you. I guess I'll try calling you back later, and we'll see if I have more luck reaching you then. Thank You."

Yeah, you'll see if you're "lucky enough" to reach me.

Obviously - he didn't reach me yesterday - so I had the honor of once again recieving that phonecall just as I sat down with my obligatory cup of coffee in front of the computer.


"Yes, this is Morgan from the Union again. I tried to reach you yesterday, but you weren't home. Are you enjoying your vacation?"

Now, you see - this is where I really start to be pissed off. I wanted to say 'I would enjoy it if you'd stop bugging me every damn day', but I'm a nice guy so I just brought on my best voice of annoyance and said:

"I'm trying to..."

"Well. I have a protocol here from your regional manager concerning you, and I wanted to discuss this with you."

"Ok. What is it?"

"Well, you know - you have a two month period of notice, right"

Period of notice is the time during which I am required to work at the place after officially having been laid off. This is designed to protect the employee, and ensure him the income for an extra two months - as well as time to actually find a new job.

"Yes, that's what you told me last time"

"Okay. Here's what they want to offer you. You work for the remainder of this month, and then you don't have to work any more. Your salary will be paid out to you during the remainder of your notice. They also want to put the date of notice retroactive to the 19th."

Wait a minute - hold on a minute here. There are papers to sign here - the place I work at has tried to get me to sign back-dated documents before... that's how they operate. Not until I sit down with them, pen in hand, signing a document with THE CURRENT DATE imprinted on it, will I be accepting the lay off.

And, while not working for the final month and a half, and still getting paid, sounds like a good idea... I'm not an imbecile. This deal is good for them - and it's bad for me... wanna know why? Because I would not recieve the extra pay one earns after 6PM every day - and the weekends are DOUBLE pay... I would miss out on nearly a thousand dollars during this time if I don't do the time inside the walls of that place I've called work for the past four years.

Further more... I'm beginning to wonder why in the hell I was placed on vacation THIS week? Was it so they could work out a deal with the Union that would suit them, and not having to be interfered with by me?

I know, I'm the kind of guy that will cause a ruckus at work when I feel things are handled badly. I've often been an inconvenience to them, and they haven't been happy about that. What do I care? Right is still right, and wrong never is.

I told the schmuck on the phone that I'll have to think about this, and that I'll get back to him when my stupid little vacation ends!

Anyway... looks like I'll only have to work one more week at the place when I return. I certainly don't feel like sticking around. What I'm gonna do, however, is try to work out a better deal for me. I will sign the papers of resignation on the 29th. I will expect my period of notice to last until that last of April, during which time I will expect my salary to be paid out in full - that meaning my additional payments need be calculated as well. Then, of course, I would have an additional 20 vacation days due in the summer - these 20 days I will expect to have paid out in full in that final paycheck.

We'll see how much they like that deal.

So - pardon my french... but Fuck You District Manager, Fuck You Store Manager, and a big ass Finger Bird and a Fuck You to Mr. Ass-Hat, Morgan the Union Rep!


I found a treat...

Yeah, a little something to improve my mood after gym today. I had to pick up some stuff at the grocery store, and I went to this place I don't usually shop at. I went there today, because they are the only ones who carry the particular brand of Ramen Noodles that I like. Ramen is my number one evening snack when I'm hungry - easy to cook, delicious taste! Add a piece of toast with cheese on it, and you're good to go.

Anyway - what I found was one of the things I miss the most from the States...


I freakin' loooove cheesecake, and it is unheard of over here. There is something they call cheesecake over here, but it doesn't even remotely resemble a New York Style Strawberry Cheesecake.

A couple of years ago, there was a store that carried some American Foods imports, and they sold the Betty Crocker cheesecake mix. I often bought that, but I guess I was the only one who did, since they stopped selling them after a while. I asked them about it.

"Hey, where's the cheesecake mix? Haven't seen it for weeks now."

"Oh, that thing didn't sell. We won't be bringing that back"

They also sold root beer - another thing that people don't know what it is over here. That was taken off the shelves about six months later... I want my Root Beer!

Hershey's Peanut Butter Cups lasted the shortest of it all - and were gone less than two months after I found them.

I can still buy me some Mississippi Belle Pancake Syrup, and the Pancake Mix. Marshmallow Fluff and (thank the Lord) Hellman's REAL Mayonnaise!

Anyway... I found a cheesecake in the store today. It made me laugh... I had to take a picture of it to share with you all:

Now, if that isn't the smallest little cheesecake you ever saw, I don't know what!

The little thing was tasty though. Finally got the taste of cheesecake in my mouth... although it lasted for all of five seconds. But, it really tasted like the real thing. They sold them in strawberry (pictured) and lemon. No plain ones - but that's ok.

Wanna know what that little thing cost?


February 20, 2008

PFC #1: "The Cold Room"

Finally, it's time to post the first Picture Fiction Challenge story.

Still, I wish I'd had more time... hehe. Well, to be honest - there was plenty of time, but I didn't get started on it until this morning. So, no time to proof read, re-write or regret anything.

I am really looking forward to reading what all of you have come up with for this one. My own story certainly went in a direction I didn't really predict from the start.

Well, I'm not going to be writing a whole lot in this introduction, as the story ended up quite long (4.228 words long), so you have enough reading to do for one day.

So, grab that cup of coffee and some snacks and enjoy my contribution. After the story - you can also read about how I interpreted the pictures, to see how this story was formed in my head. Something I intend to do for each PFC story. Only if you're curious - you don't need to read that part...

And, don't forget! If you posted your own PFC - leave me a comment and let me know, so I can add the link and check it out!

********** THE COLD ROOM **********

The floor was cold and hard against his face as he slowly came to. His entire body was hurting tremendously and he tried to open his eyes to see where he was. His left eyelid remained closed at first, and all he could see was blurred darkness. The eyeball behind that left eyelid felt swollen and about ready to explode, that’s how much it hurt.

He remembered the blow that caused the pain in his eye. A strong fist connected with his face, and he could even remember hearing the skin of his eyebrow splitting open and the gush of blood that flooded down his face. He was thrown back, landing flat on his back, and then they were on top of him. He couldn’t remember how many they were, or if he ever really saw them all. He fought them with everything he had, but he never stood a chance. That first punch to his eye alone was enough to render him defenseless. He could barely remember the struggle that took place after that, but he knew he had been flailing his fists and kicking like mad trying to escape the inevitable.


What happened to Valerie?

He tried to move. He wanted to get up off the floor, but his body felt like it had been run over by a freight train. His fingers spread out and tried to grasp the floor, as if he tried to drag himself up like that. He had to get up. He had to find out what happened to Valerie.

It was a year ago now, since he and Valerie did the unthinkable. He had been in love with her for as long as he could remember, but she took a different path than he did when they became teenagers. She started hanging with the wrong crew, and quickly she was involved in the Gang. They continued to speak every now and then, but he always felt they were slowly losing that connection with each other that they had had since they were children. It wasn’t until that day she showed up at his college, crying with a black eye that they found each other again.

She had been beaten up badly by her boyfriend Jake. He held her close to him and comforted her. Then she’d looked him right in the eyes.

“Why are you always so good to me, Brian?”

“You deserve to be happy. You don’t look like you’re happy with Jake”, Brian had told her. They had looked at each other for a while, and then he kissed her. She’d responded by pulling him closer to her, hard, and kissing him back while fresh tears were streaming down her face.

Jake was a bad-ass. No one ever double crossed him and walked away from it, but Brian loved her so much he wasn’t thinking about the consequences. They saw each other more frequently after that, and they had the most amazing sex two people could ever experience.

Two weeks later, Jake found out about their affair. Valerie had heard him coming for her at their home. The walls had been thin, and she had heard the muffled voice of her stoned out boyfriend saying to one of his “guys” that he was going to “fucking kill that bitch for screwing around with that pussy-boy Brian”.

She had reacted immediately. She’d known he was serious about killing her. There was an old lunch-box under the bed where Jake stashed his money – a couple of thousand dollars – and she reached under the bed and snagged the box. Then she escaped out the window and ran as fast as she could. She ran all the way to Brian, and when she’d found him she started screaming crazily.

“Brian! Brian! We have to go!”

Brian would never forget that moment. The instant he saw her face, and heard the urgency in her voice, he knew something was terribly wrong. She threw herself at him and hugged him so hard he could barely breathe.

“He knows. Jake knows… he’s going to kill us!”

He didn’t need to hear any more. He knew all too well what Jake was capable of. For a while he was just frozen in time, his eyes scouring the college campus expecting to see Jake coming at them with a gun in his hands.

“Where the hell are we going to go?”, he’d said to her.

“Anywhere. Out of here. Far from here. Away from him”, she held out the lunch-box. “I took his money”.

Brian’s heart stopped at the sight of it. He knew what was in there – Valerie had mentioned it to him one night in bed. She’d said she wanted to take that money and run away with him. Run away with Brian and never ever have to fear Jake again.

“Oh, Jesus… tell me you didn’t.”

“I had to… he was going to kill me, Brian. I could hear it in his voice.”

His love for her knew no boundaries, and they had quickly gone back to his student apartment where he swiftly packed whatever belongings he had that he could not do without. Then they got in his car and they drove away – never to return.

That was a year ago. The fear had subsided as time went by, and they no longer worried every day that Jake would find them. Jake’s money had been enough to get them to another state and set up a new life for them. Brian never went back to school, but they both worked decent jobs and although it was tough, their love for one another kept them happy.

Now… Jake had finally found them.

They had been out jogging this morning, as they usually did on Saturdays. They both just stopped when all of a sudden in the park they saw Jake and his Gang waiting for them. How the hell was that even possible?

“Did you really think you would get away from me, bitch?”. Jake’s eyes were filled with rage. That’s when that fist came out of nowhere and connected with Brian’s left eye.

Brian managed to get his arm moving. It hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, but he was able to pull both his arms up and he tried to lift his body up from the cold stone floor. The pain was unbearable, but he had to get up… just had to. There was a wall behind him, and after some excruciating pain, he was able to prop himself up in a sitting position with his back leaning against that wall.

He looked around the room. It appeared that he was in some abandoned building. Not a single piece of furniture existed within these four walls. No lamps hung from the ceiling and the only source of light came from a small crack on the boarded up windows. It was still daytime.

The heavy layer of dust that covered the floor moved slightly as a gust of wind found its way inside through those boarded up windows, and Brian was aware of an almost silent rustling sound. His eyes searched for the source of that sound.

A dried up leaf lifted off the floor and spun quickly around before the breeze let go of it and it sailed silently back to the floor. Brian’s eyes watched that leaf, and somehow the ease at which it lifted itself up in the air, and the smoothness of its fall back to the floor filled him with hope and comforted him.

His gaze remained fixed on the leaf. In the darkness it was the only thing he could really see, and it reminded him of freedom.

He had to get up.

Slowly, he dragged his legs across the dust covered floor and curled them up in a fetal position while his back remained propped up against the wall. Aided by the wall he tried to shift his body over and get to a kneeling stance. Once there he tried to bring his right leg forward, so he could stand on it and lift himself up. His leg would not do what his mind wanted it to do. It felt numb and detached from his sensory system. Something was wrong with his leg, but he couldn’t quite figure out what it was.

He used his left leg instead. Moaning and grimacing in pain, he was able to plant his left foot in front of his right knee, and holding on for dear life to the wall with his hand he started pulling himself up off the ground. His shoulder leaned against the wall and used it for support as he gathered all of his strength to get to a standing position. He had been beaten up pretty damn good.

Tears filled his bad eye and stung like crazy. As he grimaced he could feel the dried up blood on his face crackle and it was itching like hell. He realized he couldn’t breathe through his nose. One of those punches that had landed on his face must have shattered every bone in there, and for a second Brian was terrified that his nose was not even there any more. That it would only be a slab of loose skin flapping around in the center of his face.

As he reached a standing position he looked around the room again. In the dark he could make out the shape of a door across the room from where he was standing. He needed to get out of here.

He moved his right leg in front of him. The pain was overwhelming, but he had no choice but to use it. Walking required the use of both his legs. As he managed to bring it forward and he shifted the weight of his body onto that right leg to take that first step toward the door, the world around him started to sway.

The pain that shot up the right leg as he put his weight on it was far beyond any kind of pain he had ever experienced in his entire life. It was as if a bolt of lightning shot up from the foot, alongside his inner thigh and then buried itself in his scrotum.

He cried out loudly, and then his leg gave way completely. He went crashing back down to the floor, landing face first and it was as if someone had hit him on the jaw with a sledgehammer, full force.

He almost passed out. But, his eyes again fixed on that leaf, which moved ever so slightly across the dust. A gust of wind was produced as his body slammed back on the ground, causing the leaf to slide a little further away from him. Brian focused on that leaf, to keep himself from passing out.

When the danger of losing consciousness subsided, he rolled over on his back and looked down the length of his right leg. At the end of it, his foot pointed in the wrong direction. It was a horrid sight… his foot was not only broken – it was no longer properly attached to his leg. He drew his leg upward, bending his knee, and watched in terror as the foot lifelessly dragged across the floor. He attempted to make it move – wiggle his toes or anything at all… but there was no way his brain could connect to the muscles of his foot. The foot was a thing of its own, dead and limp and the end of his leg – only held in place by his skin and flesh. Brian started to cry, softly.

There were voices outside.

He turned his head toward the boarded up window. The one that let a little light into his world. And, he could hear the panic stricken voice of Valerie out there.

No, Jake! No!

The sound of a door opening. They were coming into the house/building he was in. Valerie was crying in fear and desperation, pleading to Jake incoherently.

I’ll do anything. Don’t hurt him, please. I’ll do anything at all – just let him go, please!

The voices were loud and clear. Brian figured they must be in the adjacent room from where he lay helplessly on the floor.

Shut the bitch up, Jake”, another voice said. “She’s getting on my fucking nerves”.

There was a loud banging sound, followed by a painstaking cry in Valerie’s voice. He could hear her crying, almost screaming out of pain and fear.

Stop the fucking cryin’, Val!”, Jake’s unmistakable voice roared at her. It was followed by a frighteningly loud cracking sound – it sounded like he had slapped her in the face so hard it almost echoed back at them from the walls of the abandoned building.

Her loud cries became a quiet hopeless sobbing. From where Brian lay on his back in that empty room, he could actually hear hope disappearing from her heart, and how she was reduced to nothing but a mindless heap on the floor. He could almost picture her lying there, curled up with that empty stare – wishing she were dead already. That the pain and fear would just go away.

Don’t fucking tempt me, bitch!

Brian listened closely. He didn’t hear any other voices, or sounds of movement that would indicate there were any other people in that other room, except for Jake and that one other guy. And of course, the love of his life, Valerie whose sobs were even beginning to slowly die on her. That scared him more than anything. Baby, don’t give up, he wanted to tell her. We’ll get out of this somehow, and I will hold you in my arms again.

The wind outside was picking up. Brian watched as the leaf became airborne once again. It drifted, twisted and turned in the air, as it flew closer to the wall. It landed just below the boarded up window.

Brian started to crawl after the leaf. He didn’t really understand why, but he felt as if that leaf had something to say to him. That the leaf wanted to show him something. Something that would help him get out of the mess he was in.

As he crawled across the floor, he listened closely for sounds in that adjacent room. Valerie’s sobbing had almost stopped completely, and there was only the occasional sniffle.

Go check on the boy.” He could hear Jake’s voice. Footsteps immediately started approaching the room Brian was inside. The other guy was going to come in here any second now. Brian had crawled his way to the middle of the room, halfway to the window. Panic started building up inside of him. In his state he would be totally defenseless against anyone. There was no way he could fight back – hell! He couldn’t even stand up!

Valerie’s voice suddenly cut through the air.

No! No! I hate you! I fucking HATE YOU!

Brian could hear the commotion out there. He could hear how Jake punched her several times.

His eyes fixed on that leaf. His brain tried to find a way to get him out of here, but of course there was nothing he could do. He crawled as fast as he could, dragging his body through the dust on the floor. It was painful and he wasn’t moving fast. It was all in slow-motion to him.

Behind him, he could hear the handle on the door turn. There was a slight creaking sound as the door opened and a stream of light came through it, lighting a path from him straight toward the leaf on the floor.

In fascination, Brian witnessed as the leaf again became airborne. The wind outside was blowing harder, and as the door was opened it created a whirlwind of sorts. The leaf went up the wall, twisting and turning as it did. Brian eyes followed its every move. It continued to rise and rise, dust swirling around it as it did.

An evil laugh was heard behind him. The man who entered the room obviously found it quite amusing to watch as Brian tried to drag his beat up body across the floor.

“Hey, boy! Where you goin’?”, and then the door was slammed shut behind him.

As the door was closed, it caused the leaf to quickly turn in the air, and it threw itself against the boarded up window, almost up by the ceiling.

The top wooden board was loose. It barely hung onto the window frame by a single nail. It was poking outward, and Brian noticed two large nails protruding from the other side. Nails that once had held the board in place, but had now come loose, leaving that one board slightly askew. That’s where the light had trickled in – that’s where the wind had come through blowing that one leaf around, lifting it up off the ground.

Brian crawled as fast as he could toward that window. Behind him the other guy was mocking him, laughing that evil laugh.

“You go crawlin’ there, boy. Where you crawlin’ to? You momma ain’t here.”

He stopped by the wall. His hand reached out for the window sill. His survival instinct took over as he pulled himself up against the wall. Pain shot through his body like he’d never thought was possible, but this was a matter of survival.

“You remember Jake, don’t you boy?”

As Brian turned around to look at the guy, his heart skipped another beat. This guy was huge. His forearms were bigger than Brian’s thighs, and the guy looked like he could single handedly lift an eighteen wheeler off the ground. His head was shaved, and his eyes were wild and crazy, staring right at Brian – a piercing stare.

“Jake has some unfinished business with you, boy”

Brian reached for that loose board. He raised his arm way above his head, as his fingers searched for that wooden board. It was the only weapon around that he could use. His fingers found nothing – only air.

The other guys crazy eyes followed his hand, and caught sight of that loose board. It became clear to Brian that the giant in front of him immediately understood what Brian was reaching for. His crazy-man smile widened on his face, as he began to laugh that evil chuckle once again.

“Oh, I see”, he said as he started to walk slowly toward Brian. “You don’t wanna go without a fight do you?”

He took out a knife from his jeans pockets. His eyes never leaving Brians.

“You gonna have to jump for that thing, boy. It’s out of your reach.” His smile widened further. It was the most evil smile Brian had ever seen. “Can you jump with that leg of yours, boy?”

Brian jumped. Well, at least he tried to jump. There was no strength in his legs. His feet barely left the ground. As he came back down his broken foot awkwardly bent backward, and shot that same rush of pain up his leg and into his scrotum. Somehow, he remained standing up.

The knife wielding maniac in front of him came closer… slowly.

Again, Brian jumped. This time he really became airborne. His hand reached the loose board, and his fingers closed around it. As he came back down, the board tore loose from its last remaining nail. Brian quickly seized it with both hands – holding it out like a baseball bat.

“Holy shit, boy. You impress me”, the man in front of him said and raised the knife.

Brian swung the wooden board at him. It swooshed through the air with all the remaining strength in his body. Then it connected with the giant’s head. The two long nails at the end of it buried itself into his skull, and Brian could hear it as they broke through the skull and dug themselves into his brain.

The scream that followed echoed back from all four walls. The crazy eyes widened. The knife fell to the floor, as he raised both his hands toward his head. It looked as if he was trying to hold his head together, as if it were exploding.

Brian pulled back. The wooden board was stuck to the side of the man’s head, and he had to pull harder to get the nails out of his skull. It was a horrible sight as the mans head cocked to the side, unable to free itself from the rusted nails, and then the nails came loose. Brian could actually hear the sound of them being pulled out of the mans brain.

When the board came loose, Brian couldn't fight the recoil. He went sprawling to the ground again, crying out in pain as he landed flat on his buttocks.


He barely realized he’d cried out her name. The man in front of him, now had both his hands up to the side of his head. Blood was seeping out from between his fingers. That crazy stare was fixed on Brian. Then his knees gave, and he fell to the floor. He then fell, face forward, landing on his belly and remained motionless.

BRIAN!” Valerie’s voice reached him. He began crawling again. Towards the door, dragging the wooden board with him.

What the fuck is going on in there?

That was Jake’s voice. He could hear him running toward the door.

Brian crawled faster. Somehow he managed to reach the door before it was opened again. He stopped next to it, so that when it opened the door would provide cover for him. He prayed to God Jake wouldn’t see him first.

The door swung open. Jake saw the lifeless body of his friend in the middle of the room.

“Mother fucker!”, then he began to turn.

Brian swung the board as hard as he could. The nails buried themselves into Jake’s right knee. The board broke in two.

Jake went down like a KO’d boxer. But, it didn’t last long. He dragged himself up, twisted the piece of wooden board that was nailed to his knees, and pulled it out. Blood slowly began to run down his pants from the hole in his knees.

“Now you die, Brian. Now you fucking die.”

Brian tried to hit him with the remaining piece of wood he had, but missed. He had no strength to hold on to it any more, and it went flying across the room. Empty handed, with no weapon, Brian was powerless to fight back as Jake’s fist landed squarely on that very same left eye again. Jake then closed his strong fingers around Brian’s throat and began to strangle him.

Brian couldn’t breathe. He tried to fight back, flailing and kicking, but Jake was much too strong for him. He could feel the life being drained from him. Jake continued to tell him he was going to die, he was going to die right here, right fucking now!

“Leave him alone”

The voice was barely audible. To Brian it sounded as if it came from another planet. He almost wasn’t here anymore. His mind was already starting to accept the fact that, indeed, he was going to die. Somewhere in the back of his mind he registered that voice as that of Valerie. Somewhere deep in his conscious he remembered how much he loved her.

The world was fading away from him, but somehow he managed to open his eyes. He still couldn’t see clearly… but that same deep consciousness recognized Valerie behind Jake. She was holding a gun with both hands, pointing it straight at Jake.

Jake continued to choke him. It wasn’t long now before his life would escape him forever. Jake’s head was turned away from him. He was looking at Valerie pointing a gun at him.

“You don’t have the fucking balls”, he said to her. Then a shot went off.

Blood and grey matter splattered across Brian’s face. That was the first thing he noticed. Then the grip around his neck loosened. He quickly took a desperate breath, as he saw Jake’s limp body falling to the side, away from him.

Then everything was quiet.

Slowly, the world was coming back to him. Slowly he could see the world in focus again. He looked at the lifeless body of Jake beside him. A large hole in the side of his head exposed the remains of his brain inside. Jake was dead.

Valerie was still standing there by the door, holding the gun out in front of her with both hands. She had been badly beaten up, and her hands were shaking. She had no tears left inside to cry, only a blank stare toward the body of Jake. She was completely detached from the world, in a state of shock.

He began crawling toward her.

“Baby… Valerie…”, she remained frozen in that pose, as if she were a doll at a wax museum. Despite everything, Brian noticed how beautiful she was.

He reached her. He started tugging at her leg, trying to shake her out of her catatonic state.

“It’s ok, baby”, he tells her. Then she suddenly lowers the gun, and her knees buckle beneath her. She sits down heavily on the floor next to Brian, and then her eyes flooded with fresh new tears. “It’s ok, baby. It’s all over now. Everything is going to be all right.”

He pulled her closer to him, holding her tight.

And, it was. Everything was going to be all right. They were together now.

********** THE END **********

Well, that's my story this month. Below you can read how this story was formed in my head - well, parts of it anyway. What you will read below each picture are actual notes I put down as I thought about each picture - so those notes were written prior to the story. You may see how some things made it into the finished article, while other things went in a whole other direction.


This picture doesn’t speak to me. For a guy like myself who likes to write character driven prose, this really made this first PFC difficult for me. I can’t get a good grip on the boy in that picture.

What I do see… I see a young boy, maybe in his early 20’s. He’s wearing a jogging suit, and he’s running towards the camera. That’s all I get. He’s running towards something…

A beautiful young girl, approximately the same age as the boy. I see budding romance here… the boy was running towards something – maybe he’s running towards her. Not necessarily literally… he wants her. He’s longing to be in her arms. Are they a couple already? Something keeping them apart? Or does he desire her…

Hmmm… what is that? A run down apartment building? A warehouse of sorts? An abandoned building? Yes, I think it will be an abandoned building. This gets me thinking… what if the boy is in that abandoned building? What if he’s being held in there by some bad people, and he needs to get out of there and reach the girl. Maybe he’s held captive in there so that he cannot protect the girl… and he knows she is in trouble. The setting is my life-saver in this story. I like this picture.

A single leaf. Ok. That doesn’t really make sense. But, looking at the story I’m beginning to structure from the above three pictures… I’m thinking the boy is locked in this room, right. The room is empty – no furniture, windows boarded up. A single leaf on the dust covered floor is the only thing around that the boy can focus on. Yes, it can be a catalyst of some sort… we’ll see where that thing goes.

For the longest time, I could not figure out what the hell to do with that picture. At first I couldn’t get past the fact that it was some girl jumping on the beach. Well, after a while I figured it wasn’t so important that it was a girl – nor that it took place on the beach. Lets focus on the fact that someone is jumping. Jumping… somehow, needs to be a way for the boy to reach the girl – to save the girl and himself.

Maybe the girl is held captive too… in that same abandoned building – just not in the same room. Maybe jumping is an obstacle that he needs to overcome – made even more difficult on account of his broken foot?


There. That's it. That is my first PFC. Check the sidebar here, as I'll try to update with links to all the other people who wrote stories based on these pictures.

I will announce the next Picture Fiction Challenge on Monday here on my blog. So come back then to find the pictures for next months PFC!

February 19, 2008

WWC / PFC Reminder

Second day of my mini-vacation is a Tuesday... and we all know what that means, don't we? Oh, yes - that means it is time for the Weekly Words Challenge, presented by the uber-scary cupcake wrestling Tink of Pickled Beef!

This particular week she decided on the words FOUND and CURVE.

Now, when I initially thought about this when she announced the words last week I thought I'd have serious problems with the word FOUND - but just hours later it struck me what I needed to do for that word.

That's why I ended up with a little bit of a different approach to that one this week. I will use those pictures to tell a little story... a picture story if you will - NOT to be confused with the Picture Fiction Challenge.

Well, it's getting late over here - so for once I'm cutting right to the chase. Here are my pictures for this week:

Back in '91 when I was living in Florida, I had a second job working the night shift at a McDonald's restaurant. One night, just after 1AM, as I walked to my beat-up, good-for-nothing Pontiac Fiero, I FOUND something on the ground next to my car on the parking lot. It was a $100 bill. Ecstatic I bend down and pick it up off the ground, looking left and right hoping no one saw me...


As I unfolded the neatly folded $100 bill, to put it into my wallet, I FOUND that it was not a real Benjamin Franklin I held in my hand. It was much too short - the mid-section of the bill was completely missing. My fingers could also feel that the texture was not that of money, but that of plain old paper...


I turned the piece of paper I had thought was money over, and FOUND these encouraging words.

Now... I don't understand how this church thinks they are going to recruit members by deceit and by pissing the average Joe off so badly he feels like calling them up and tell them to go to a place far far away from Heaven. Still... the damn thing cracked me up - and I still carry this piece of paper in my wallet.

PS. I blurred the final four digits of their phone-number - just in case you guys thought of calling them up just to give them a piece of YOUR mind on my behalf ;)


The headlights of my car sweep the CURVE of the street at night.


Same street, same CURVE. Coming from the other direction, daytime.


I FOUND this view beautiful, and figured I'd share it.


So that completes my contribution the the Weekly Words Challenge this week. I'll be back again with more picture for your viewing pleasure next week. Then we'll be showing off pictures representing the words WOOD and METAL. That's going to be interesting!

Tomorrow is the day you should post your Picture Fiction Challenge. Don't forget!

You have until the 22nd to post your entry, if you can't make it by tomorrow - but after that I'm not keeping up with the links to your contributions.

I'm so excited and eager to read what you all have come up with. I hope this thing will turn into a successful little monthly exploit into the creative minds of us bloggers.

Happy blogging, and good luck with your creative writing!